Friday, September 30, 2016

'Twice Born: Stories From The Special Delivery Unit' Emmy winner for Outstanding Science and Technology Programming

I concluded 'The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements' Emmy winner for Outstanding Lighting Direction and Scenic Design by telling my readers to "Stay tuned for the final entry of the month, which I plan to be about the Science and Technology Programming winner, 'Twice Born: Stories From The Special Delivery Unit.'"  To that end, I share the series trailer from PBS.

Witness groundbreaking medical procedures in this intimate look at fetal surgery.
For the rest of the clips, watch the playlist on PBS's YouTube channel. Expect to spend about an hour, as there are 17 of them.

After watching that trailer, I can see and feel why it won over the rest of the field, which were all also from PBS -- Independent Lens: "American Denial," NOVA: "The Great Math Mystery," NOVA: "Dawn of Humanity," and NOVA: "Inside Einstein's Mind." I might revisit some of these, particularly "Dawn of Humanity" and "American Denial." The first looks like something I could use for my teaching, while the second appears to be quite on-topic for this blog.

That's it for September. Stay tuned for a post for a new month at midnight Eastern Daylight Time.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

'The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements' Emmy winner for Outstanding Lighting Direction and Scenic Design

So far in my review of the science, health, and nature honorees among the News and Documentary Emmy Awards, I've looked at the evolution of vertebrates in Emmy Award winner 'Rise of Animals', the 2014 Ebola epidemic in Emmy winner 'Outbreak' from Frontline on PBS, and great ape conservation in 'The Last Orangutan Eden'--Emmy winner for sound and music in a documentary.  Today, I'm looking at chemistry with "The Mystery of Matter: Search for the Elements," the Emmy winner for Outstanding Lighting Direction and Scenic Design.  Two clips from the first episode will serve to demonstrate how the series earned that award.

First, A Momentous Encounter.

While holding a variety of jobs as a minister, teacher, lecturer and tutor, Joseph Priestley wrote prolifically on subjects ranging from education and theology to politics and science. Biographer Steven Johnson explains how Priestley’s idea for a book about electricity led to his warm friendship with Benjamin Franklin – and inspired him to become a scientist in his own right.
Priestly shows up again in the next clip, Lavoisier's Better Half.

Antoine Lavoisier worked six days a week as a tax administrator for the king of France, but his passion was chemistry. Before and after work each day, he spent hours in his private laboratory, and one day a week he welcomed others to take part in his ambitious experiments. But his most important collaborator was his wife, Marie Anne, who brought her own extraordinary talents to their partnership.
Those are just the segments about chemistry in the 1700s.  The show continues the story through the next two centuries.  There is a playlist of all seven clips for my readers who are interested in watching highlights of the rest of the history.

Stay tuned for the final entry of the month, which I plan to be about the Science and Technology Programming winner, "Twice Born: Stories From The Special Delivery Unit."

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

'The Last Orangutan Eden'--Emmy winner for sound and music in a documentary

Yesterday, I wrote "I'll resume posting about the actual news and documentary Emmy winners tomorrow."  As the Gorillaz say, "tomorrow comes today," so it's time to post about another winner.

Today's show is "The Last Orangutan Eden," which won Outstanding Music and Sound.  The news and documentary people recognize music?  Well, if they do, so will I.  I can't resist awards for music that accompanies visual media.

Ecologist Chris Morgan travels to the jungles of Northern Sumatra to document the work being done to save its population of wild orangutans. Asia’s most intelligent ape once roamed across the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Java, but today, fewer than 7,000 Sumatran orangutans remain in the wild. The film cites rapid deforestation — clearing the land for vast palm oil plantations — as the chief reason for the species’ declining population.
The music is beautiful even in the trailer, but the real star is the ambient sound of nature.  Listen for the bird and insect calls in Getting the Orangutan Perspective.

NATURE host Chris Morgan joins scientist Caroline Schuppli way up in the canopy to take a look at neesia fruit, a staple of the orangutan diet.
I get acrophobia just sitting at my computer watching the video!

I have two more planned, one for each remaining day of the month.  Stay tuned.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Last Week Tonight examines Clinton and Trump foundations after winning three Emmy Awards

While I was writing about "Game of Thrones" and "Orphan Black" winning Emmy Awards, another show was winning three statuettes.  "Last Week Tonight" earned Outstanding Talk Variety Series, Outstanding Writing for a Variety Series, and Outstanding Picture Editing for a Variety Series.  Congratulations!

After winning the awards, the series returned Sunday with an examination of the Trump Foundation and comparing it to the Clinton Foundation.  It demonstrated that the show deserved all of its awards.  Watch Scandals: Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (HBO) and see if I'm wrong.

The 2016 presidential race is teeming with raisins. Sorry…scandals.
Vox quoted the full raisin metaphor.
"Ethical failings in a politician are like raisins in a cookie," Oliver added. "They shouldn’t be there. They disgust people. But most politicians have at least a few raisins.

"Hillary is a cookie like this one," Oliver said, pulling out one raisin cookie. "She arguably has more raisins than average. There’s probably 10 of those little fuckers in there."

"But we all need to remember that when it comes to Donald Trump, this is the amount of raisins that he represents," Oliver explained, as hundreds of raisins rained on top of him. "The man is a fucking raisin monsoon. He is ethically compromised to an almost unprecedented degree."
"If you don’t like raisins, I get it — they’re disgusting," Oliver said. "But unfortunately, this November, you’re going to have to swallow 10, or we’re all going to be eating this shit for years."
I like raisins, but I don't like them that much!

I'll resume posting about the actual news and documentary Emmy winners tomorrow, although it felt like I was just writing about the best news program on TV today, even if it is considered entertainment.  Once again, congratulations on the show's three Emmy Awards!

Monday, September 26, 2016

Emmy winner 'Outbreak' from Frontline on PBS

I wrote that I'd post more about other Emmy News and Documentary winners at the end of Emmy Award winner 'Rise of Animals'.  After giving my readers a rain check at the start of How 'Star Trek' shaped the present and future, it's time to redeem it.

Today, I'm looking at Frontline's "Outbreak," which won the award for Outstanding Coverage of a Current News Story – Long Form, one of seven awards earned by Frontline last week.  It covered the Ebola epidemic of 2014 in west Africa, which I wrote about extensively at the time.  I begin with the trailer.

The vivid, inside story of how the recent Ebola outbreak began and why it wasn’t stopped before it was too late. FRONTLINE's upcoming documentary "Outbreak" exposes tragic missteps in the response to the epidemic.
Follow over the jump for clips from each of the most affected countries, Guinea, Sierra Leone, and Liberia.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

How 'Star Trek' shaped the present and future

When I wrote "I'll have more on the other [News and Documentary Emmy] winners next week, possibly beginning with Sunday's entertainment entry" to end Emmy Award winner 'Rise of Animals', the key word was "possibly."  I'll still do it, but later this week.  Instead, I'm celebrating Star Trek's 50th anniversary one more time with two videos from Smithsonian Channel from its documentary "Building Star Trek."  I begin with a topic I've examined here before, a real-life tricorder in The $10 Million Race to Invent Star Trek's Tricorder.

Fifty years after the show aired, Star Trek’s fictional tricorder is far from becoming a reality. But a $10 million prize from the XPRIZE Foundation is hoping to motivate inventors to create one quickly.
The show influenced more than technology.  Star Trek's Nichelle Nichols on Uhura's Radical Impact depicts its impact on society.

Star Trek’s decision to cast Nichelle Nichols, an African American woman, as major character on the show was an almost unheard-of move in 1968. But for black women all over the country, it redefined the notions of what was possible.
To watch more, click here for the full documentary.  Sorry, embedding disabled by request.

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Double driving update for September

I told my readers to stay tuned for a driving and gas price update today at the end of Emmy Award winner 'Rise of Animals'.  Time to follow through.

Both cars turned over their odometers this week.  Dez (similar to the car above) passed 52,000 miles on Monday and Pearl rolled past 29,000 miles on Wednesday.  Dez last turned over in April, specifically  April 27th.  That means it took 145 days for the car to drive 1,000 miles for an average of 6.90 miles per day and 210.34 miles per standard month.  That's much less than any of the three previous updates, the 23.81 miles per day or 726.2 miles per standard month during March and April, the 9.9 miles/per day or 302.0 (301.98) miles per standard month between December and March, and the 16.67 miles per day or 508.33 miles per standard month between October and December.  This is the lowest average daily and monthly travel for the car since my wife and I bought it.  I attribute the lower mileage to trips to visit family and no long trips for service or shopping.  That will probably change next month, when my wife has some travel planned.

Pearl last rolled over her odometer on July 27, 2016, when it passed 28,000.  That means 57 days elapsed until the car passed 29,000 miles this week.  That translates to 17.54 miles per day and 535.1 (535.09) miles per standard month.  Those are less than both the 18.52 miles per day or 564.8 miles per standard month during June and July and the 19.61 miles/day and 598.0 miles/month I drove Pearl between April and June.  On the other hand, it's very close to the 17.41 miles per day, 530.9 miles per standard month over the entire first year I owned the car.  I just had an average month!  Driving to no meetings during July and August plus not working for three weeks of August contributed to the lower use, but I should have walked more.  Instead, I drove a lot of short multi-store shopping trips for my wife that resulted in me buying too much to carry while I was home.  I'm sure that contributed to her driving a lot less!

Both cars passing another 1,000 miles within two days of each other presents another opportunity to examine the driving of the entire household.  When I did that in March, I estimated it to have been a combined average of 34.21 miles/day and 1043.42 miles/month.  The next month, it jumped to a total average of 40.48 miles per day and 1270.8 miles per month.  This time, I'll add Dez's 6.90 miles per day to the average for Pearl over two reports, 18.03 miles per day, to yield 24.93 miles per day and 760.4 miles per standard month.  That's a big drop.  It was probably a good thing that I ran those errands in my Prius than my wife doing them in her Tiguan, as I probably consumed several gallons of gas less than she would have.

Enough of my life.  Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry.

Friday, September 23, 2016

Emmy Award winner 'Rise of Animals'

As I mentioned in Al Jazeera America's final Emmy nominations, the News and Documentary Emmy Awards were given out Wednesday night.  Unfortunately, Al Jazeera America didn't win any.  That doesn't mean that I found the awards disappointing.  Quite the contrary, since I've started paying attention, I've found worthwhile shows that I can share with my classes, whether about Snow Monkeys or Your Inner Fish.  This year, the winner that caught my eye was Smithsonian Channel's "Rise of Animals: Triumph of the Vertebrates," which earned Outstanding Nature Programming.  Not only is it excellent informative television, it gives me a chance to write about fossils.

Smithsonian Channel has obligingly loaded several videos from the show to its YouTube channel, begining with Sir David Attenborough answering the question When Did Our Backbones First Appear?

When did vertebrates emerge, asks David Attenborough? An exciting fossil find in China points to a 525-million year old sea-dweller who used its new backbone to swim nimbly away from predators.
I can definitely use this in class.

Follow over the jump for more videos.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Happy Autumnal Equinox 2016!

Today is the last day of astronomical summer and the first day of astronomical fall.  Treehugger gives the exact time of the transition today in 12 things to know about the 2016 autumnal equinox.
Well hello, fall.

Even though it happens year after year, the arrival of autumn is always a little surprising. Almost as if on a switch, one day late in the summer you feel it – a subtle crispness in the air. And before you know it, it’s pumpkin-spice-everything everywhere. We are suddenly swathed in sweaters and wearing boots and bombarded by shades of orange, often even before the thermometer warrants it. After slogging through a long hot August, it's exciting.

We can thank the autumnal equinox for this shift from sultry summer to cozy fall. And while most of us are aware of when the first day of autumn lands on the calendar, there’s more to the equinox than meets the eye. Consider the following.

1. This year, the autumnal equinox arrives precisely at 10:21 a.m. (EDT) on Thursday, September 22. Unlike an event like New Year’s midnight that follows the clock around the time zones, equinoxes happen at the same moment everywhere.
Eleven more facts at the link in the headline.  You can read them, or you can watch this video from National Geographic.

Just twice a year, day and night fall into perfect balance. Some claim that astronomical phenomenon, called equinox, inspires ancient structures to reveal hidden secrets.
Or you can do both.  Either way, happy equinox!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Al Jazeera America's final Emmy nominations

I told my readers to expect "two or three entries about the News and Documentary Emmy Awards" at the end of Ten Emmy Awards for 'Game of Thrones' plus other speculative fiction winners.  Today, the day of the award ceremony, I begin delivering on that promise with the swan song for Al Jazeera America, which announced this past January that it was shutting down.  The cable news channel followed through, closing in April.  However, it kept up its excellence in journalism right up to the end, which earned the outlet 10 Emmy nominations, making it the seventh most nominated news source behind ABC News with 11 nominations and ahead of The New York Times with 9.
Al Jazeera America 10
Fault Lines 5

Baltimore Rising 1
Conflicted: The Fight for Congo’s Minerals  1
Forgotten Youth 1
Forgotten Youth: Inside America’s Prisons 1
The Puerto Rico Gamble  1

Al Jazeera America Presents  2
Freeway: Crack in the System 1
Guantanamo’s Child 1

Ali Velshi On Target 2
Hitting The Brakes: Chicago’s Red Light Camera Scandal 1
Slave Wages For The Disabled 1

America Tonight 1
Emmett Till Special 1
The categories include Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting in a
Regularly Scheduled Newscast (2 for Ali Veshi), Outstanding Coverage of a Breaking News Story in a News Magazine (1 for Fault Lines), Outstanding Investigative Journalism in a News Magazine (1 for Fault Lines), Outstanding Business and Economic Reporting in a News Magazine (2 for Fault Lines), Outstanding Coverage of a Current News Story: Long Form (1 for All Jazeera America Presents), Outstanding Investigative Journalism: Long Form (1 for Al Jazeera America Presents), Outstanding Writing (1 for America Tonight), and Outstanding Research (1 for Fault Lines).  In future years, some other outlet will get these nominations, but I'll miss Al Jazeera America.  I'll be a good environmentalist and recycle what I wrote in January about the channel closing down.
I appreciated Al Jazeera's investigative reporting and presentation without sensationalism.  In that, I'll echo what Al Jazeera America CEO Al Anstey wrote in an email to his employees: "I know the closure of AJAM will be a massive disappointment for everyone here who has worked tirelessly for our long-term future. The decision that has been made is in no way because AJAM has done anything but a great job. Our commitment to great journalism is unrivaled."
And it was, right up to the end.

Tuesday, September 20, 2016

'Game of Thrones' and 'Orphan Black' win Emmy Awards

I opened Ten Emmy Awards for 'Game of Thrones' plus other speculative fiction winners by listing the awards it had already won then counting how many it still could win.
"Game of Thrones" won ten Creative Arts awards last weekend: Outstanding Casting – Drama, Outstanding Non-Prosthetic Makeup – Single-Camera, Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup, Outstanding Costumes – Period/Fantasy, Outstanding Production Design – Hour-Long, Outstanding Production Design – Contemporary/Fantasy, Outstanding Stunt Coordination – Drama/Limited, Outstanding Special Visual Effects, Outstanding Picture Editing – Drama, and Outstanding Sound Mixing – One-Hour.  Ten down, up to five to go.
Those five were Outstanding Drama, Outstanding Supporting Actor, Outstanding Supporting Actress, Outstanding Direction, and Outstanding Writing.  It won three of them, Outstanding Drama, Outstanding Direction, and Outstanding Writing.  ABC News reports on "Game of Thrones" and the other major shows in 2016 Emmy Awards HIGHLIGHTS: Biggest Winners, Moments.

"People v O.J. Simpson" and "Game of Thrones" were big winners at the 68th annual awards show.
Fantasy, crime, and politics, three of my favorite topics in fiction, all produced big winners on Sunday.  For both Julia Louis-Dreyfus of "Veep" and "Game of Thrones," the wins were historic.  It was the fifth time she had won for the same role, making her the first actress to do so.  As for "Game of Thones," the show has now won 39 Emmy Awards, making it the most recognized show in the history of television.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Ten Emmy Awards for 'Game of Thrones' plus other speculative fiction winners

In July, I wrote "Twenty-three Emmy nominations for 'Game of Thrones' may suck the oxygen away from other speculative fiction nominees."  That almost happened, as I can repeat what I wrote after the Creative Arts Emmy Awards last year--"'Game of Thrones' already a big winner at the Emmy Awards."  According to the list at E! (but not the reporting, which confused all of HBO's awards for its premiere series'), "Game of Thrones" won ten Creative Arts awards last weekend: Outstanding Casting – Drama, Outstanding Non-Prosthetic Makeup – Single-Camera, Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup, Outstanding Costumes – Period/Fantasy, Outstanding Production Design – Hour-Long, Outstanding Production Design – Contemporary/Fantasy, Outstanding Stunt Coordination – Drama/Limited, Outstanding Special Visual Effects, Outstanding Picture Editing – Drama, and Outstanding Sound Mixing – One-Hour.  Ten down, up to five to go.

As I feared, "Game of Thrones" managed to shut out the other series I was rooting for, "The Walking Dead," "Penny Dreadful," and "Gotham."  None of them won a single award.  However, it still didn't beat all of the speculative fiction entries nominated against it.  The one I found most surprising was "Man in the High Castle" beating "Game of Thrones" for Outstanding Cinematography – Single Camera.  The Amazon series about the Hugo Award winner also won Outstanding Title Design, defeating "Marvel's Jessica Jones," "Narcos," "The Night Manager," and "Vinyl."  "Jessica Jones" still got recognized, but that's a story for over the jump.  Finally, "Black Sails," which barely qualifies as speculative fiction, won Outstanding Sound Editing For A Series.  That's small consolation for being cancelled.

"Game of Thrones" also lost some categories to more conventional fare.  "Downton Abbey" beat it for Outstanding Hairstyling (Single-Camera).  Hank Azaria beat Max Von Sydow to win Outstanding Drama Guest Actor for his role in "Ray Donovan."  "The Late Late Show With James Corden" won Outstanding Interactive Program to beat out the interactive versions of both "Game of Thrones" and "The Walking Dead," although Chris Hardwick, host of "The Talking Dead," won Outstanding Social TV Experience for "@Midnight."

As for speculative fiction shows nominated in categories mostly not contested with "Game of Thrones," the big winner was "American Horror Story: Hotel."  It won two awards for Outstanding Non-Prosthetic Makeup – Limited Series and Outstanding Costumes – Contemporary.  Two other awards that E! attributed to the series, Outstanding Picture Editing – Limited Series, and Outstanding Sound Mixing – Limited Series, actually went to "The People v. O.J. Simpson: American Crime Story," according to Variety.  Congratulations, despite losing to "Game of Thrones" in the two categories where the two shows went head-to-head, Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup and Outstanding Production Design – Hour-Long.

Another show I had high hopes for was "Fear the Walking Dead: Flight 462," which was nominated for Outstanding Short Form Comedy Or Drama Series and Outstanding Actress in a Short Form Comedy or Drama Series.  The show was the first in "The Walking Dead" franchise to be nominated for overall show or an acting award.  Unfortunately, it lost.  "Childrens Hospital" on Cartoon Network's Adult Swim won best Short Form Comedy or Drama Series and Patrika Darbo won for her role in "Acting Dead" on  Well, at least a zombie show won something.

Saturday, September 17, 2016

Colbert and Meyers examine the Trump Foundation

Early last week, Paul W. at You Might Notice a Trend did some research on the Clinton Foundation Vs. Trump Foundation.
Where I work, I have access to a foundations/grants database.

On a whim, I took a look at the two foundations currently in the news...

The governing board for the Clinton Foundation has CEO, CFO, executive Director. The only Clinton family member I see active with the non-profit is Chelsea Clinton.

The governing board for the Trump Foundation is all Trump: Donald himself, two of his kids, one of his grandkids, and I think his son-in-law. I know I shouldn't suspect *cough* nepotism *cough* but still...

The database I use didn't show on the records the foundations' rating scale, it may have been under a different part of the directory. But for what I know, the Clinton Foundation is vetted and graded and the Trump Foundation isn't.
My comment summarized the information in the last two links.
I'm a regular user of Charity Navigator. That site has a wealth of data many charities, including both foundations. The Clinton Foundation has a 4-star rating. The Trump Foundation is not rated at all!
The day before, Paul quoted a Washington Post article in A Serious Scandal For a Deadly Serious Election Year that reported that the $25,000 donated to a political group connected to Florida Attorney General Pan Bondi came from the Trump Foundation.  The two stories came together again this week when The Late Show with Stephen Colbert posted The Trump Foundation Needs Your Help to its YouTube channel.

Can you find it in your heart to give? For just pennies a day you too can pay off a Florida attorney general.
Colbert wasn't the only late night television host to examine the Trump Foundation.  Seth Meyers did so as well in A Closer Look: The Trump Foundation and tied it into other controversies surrounding Trump, his not paying contractors to his business and vendors to his campaign and his not releasing his tax returns.

Seth examines whether Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump's refusal to release his tax returns is related to controversy surrounding his personal foundation.
Meyers did a good job of closing the circle on this segment, so I'll follow suit by returning to Paul W., who concluded his blog entry on the two foundations with the rhetorical question, "And the Beltway media only wants the CLINTON Foundation to close down?  Screw them."  I second this emotion and see it and raise with this graphic.

Stay tuned for the Sunday entertainment entry, which will be about the speculative fiction and music winners at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards last weekend.

Friday, September 16, 2016

Clinton lead over Trump shrinking in Michigan

When I last reported on the state of the presidential contest in Michigan, Clinton had leads of 17% and 15%.  That was at the start of July.  The situation has changed dramatically since then, as WXYZ reports in EXCLUSIVE POLL: Presidential race between Clinton & Trump too close to call in Michigan.

The race for U.S. President has narrowed considerably in Michigan and is now too close to call!
The Detroit Free Press explains what happened.
Where she led among every age group a month ago, she now trails with voters 50-64 by 41%-33%. And what had been a 24-point lead among voters 18-34 has dropped to 7 points, 31%-24%, with Johnson picking up support to match Trump’s (24%).

Also, where Clinton led among black voters, 85%-2% over Trump in August, that is now 74%-2%, with the poll showing some support migrating to Johnson and Stein and the undecided number growing from 10% to 14%.

And in the most populous part of Michigan — Wayne, Oakland and Macomb counties — where Clinton held a 53%-27% edge over Trump in August, she now holds a 47%-32% margin. Undecideds remained at 11%.

Clinton's support among people from union households fell from 49% to 41%, where Trump’s rose from 29% to 37% — though she appeared to continue to hold a wide margin among union members themselves. The UAW, Teamsters, AFL-CIO and others have endorsed Clinton.
On the one hand, EEP!  FiveThirtyEight now gives Clinton 71.4% chance of winning the state, down from 93% in August.  On the other, it's now time to do something about the situation.  Fortunately, there is a campaign field office just a mile away.  The manager there has been asking me to phone bank and canvass since it opened.  When Clinton had a more than ten point lead, I didn't think she needed my help.  Now, she does.  Time to start volunteering!

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Trump, Johnson, and Kaine campaigning in Michigan

Just two weeks ago, Donald Trump and Jill Stein visited Detroit.  This week, Trump returned to Michigan, where he was interrupted and heckled as he visited a church in Flint.  WOOD-TV reports.

Trump was chastised and heckled during what was supposed to be a speech on helping where the government had failed the people of Flint.
Trump may have had supporters there, but he had more detractors, and they weren't shy about booing him when he left the church.  The only good news for him on that front was that Rashida Tlaib wasn't there, or the protest would have been better organized.

Just like Trump's previous visit to Michigan, a minor party candidate visited Detroit the same day.  Then, it was Stein.  Yesterday, it was Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson speaking to the Detroit Economic Club.  Again, WOOD-TV reports.

Johnson's message about the auto companies probably wasn't popular, but at least it was ideologically consistent.

Hillary Clinton may have been off the campaign trail early this week because of illness, but her surrogates were out in force.  Chief among them was Tim Kaine, who spoke in Ann Arbor on Tuesday.  WXYZ reports.

Democratic Vice Presidential candidate Tim Kaine spoke at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
Kaine was certainly better received in Ann Arbor than Trump was in Flint.  May the vote totals in November reflect this.

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Good news everyone! Ozone hole shrinking

I found the perfect story to ease me back into this blog's regular programming after three straight days celebrating Star Trek's 50th anniversary, good news about the hole in the ozone layer.  Trace Dominguez of DNews has that as the answer to What Ever Happened To The Hole In The Ozone Layer?

Around 30 years ago, scientists found a massive and growing hole in the ozone layer. How's it doing today?
"The Antarctic ozone hole has been a potent symbol of humankind's ability to cause unintended environmental harm. But now comes a glimmer of good news: The void in the ozone layer is shrinking. 'It's a big surprise,' says Susan Solomon, an atmospheric chemist at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge. 'I didn't think it would be this early.'"
I've been looking for a video on this topic I can show my students.  Now I've found one.  Also, I first reported this story in Climate and environment news from Colorado State University two years ago, but it's gratifying to see that the good trend is continuing.  Both are enough to prompt me to post Professor Farnsworth.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

'Star Trek' themed drinks for the show's 50th anniversary

I foreshadowed today's post when I concluded Alignment charts for the 50th anniversary of 'Star Trek' by writing "Next up, drink recipes.  Once again, Star Wars can't have all the fun!"  I begin with a recreation of two classic drinks from the series with ROMULAN ALE & KLINGON BLOOD WINE from Nicko's Kitchen.


ROMULAN ALE makes 4 drinks
375 ml Rum
375 ml Vodka
375 ml Blue Curacao liqueur

KLINGON BLOOD WINE makes 2 drinks
1 oz Tequila
1 oz Spiced rum
1 dash grenadine syrup
2 dashes Tabasco sauce
1 cup cranberry juice
Almost Nerdy's Andorian Ale recipe is similar to the Romulan Ale, 2 oz. Raspberry vodka and 1 oz. Blue Curacao.  If Captain Jack Sparrow drank this after sampling the Romulan Ale, he might ask, "but why is all the rum gone?"

Follow over the jump for more recipes.

Monday, September 12, 2016

Alignment charts for the 50th anniversary of 'Star Trek'

I closed Cavaliers and Cascades playing music from 'Star Trek' for the show's 50th anniversary with "I'll have posts with alignment charts and "Star Trek" themed drinks later this week.  In the meantime, live long and prosper!"  Today, it's alignment charts--Star Wars can't have all the fun!

I begin with one for "The Original Series," since it is that show's anniversary being celebrated.

That looks about right.  Follow over the jump for more from the sequels and movies.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Cavaliers and Cascades playing music from 'Star Trek' for the show's 50th anniversary

I concluded Best August so far and other monthly meta by telling my readers to "stay tuned for Sunday's entry."
Normally, that would be an entertainment post, but tomorrow is the 15th Anniversary of 9/11.  I might post Part 2 of my day to complete My 9-11 story, part 1 or I might not.  I haven't decided yet.
I decided that I wasn't feeling it.  Instead, I've decided to continue wishing a happy 50th Anniversary to Star Trek.  I've already done so from the actors, NASA, and the Planetary Society, but those aren't my trademark ways of celebrating an event or holiday.  Those involve drum corps, alignment charts, and drink recipes.  Fortunately, I have material available for posts featuring each one.  Today, it's drum corps.

I begin with The 2013 Cavaliers playing "Enterprising Young Men" from the J.J. Abrams "Star Trek" movie I reviewed in Science Fiction, Double Feature, Part 1.

That's not all.  The 2015 Cascades' Intergalactic Show began with "Enterprising Young Men" and closed with the theme from the original TV show.

Cascades 2015 production "Intergalactic", recorded Aug. 6, 2015 at the DCI World Championship Prelims, Lucas Oil Stadium, Indianapolis, Indiana. Director: Lewis Norfleet, Visual: Nick Benson, Brass: Kyle Thompson, Percussion: Steve Henry, Guard: Brett Harbur.
I'll have posts with alignment charts and "Star Trek" themed drinks later this week.  In the meantime, live long and prosper!

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Best August so far and other monthly meta

As Infidel 753 noted and I quoted, I post regular digests of my statistics of this blog.  I just finished compiling the stats for August 2016, so it's time to post them.

Last month was the best August ever and the fourth best month in the history of the blog so far with 19,821 page views from 31 posts during 31 days.  This means that the number of page views per day and per post were identical at 639.39.  All of those were much higher than for August 2015, when the blog received 14,981 page views for 38 entries over 31 days, resulting in averages of 483.26 page views per day and 394.24 page views per entry.*  All of those were new records for the blog at the time.  However, last month saw a 32.3% increase in total page views and page views per day, and a whopping 62.2% increase in page views per post.  The goal I set for myself in March to increase my page views per post while still growing my readership is still succeeding spectacularly!

On the other hand, last month's comments were disappointing.  The month also saw 27 comments for an average of 0.87 comments both per day and post.   That's a lot less than last August's 41 comments, which were the most since February 2014 and a new record for last year through the end of August.  In terms of total and per day, they declined 34.1%.  Comments per entry declined less, as I posted 38 entries last August for an average of 1.08 comments per entry.  The result is a decline of 0.21 comments per entry or 19.4%.  That looks less bad.  Also, I am recognizing a most commented on entry over the jump, unlike March 2016 when no post merited the honor.  For what it's worth, this month looks better already with 22 comments to 9 entries over 10 days.  It's not on pace to beat September 2015's 74 comments, but at least participation in the comments section will look respectable and hopefully not full of spam!

Before I review the most read posts, I'm featuring the ones that got the most attention on social media.  This month, I institute a new recognition, most retweeted on Twitter.  This month, the honor goes to U.S. Taxpayers Party of Michigan candidates for 2016 from August 27, 2016, which was the most retweeted post of the month with five retweets during August, six overall.

Three posts tied for most pinned on Pinterest with 2 pins during July.  "Star Wars Drinks for Star Wars Day" from May 4, 2015 repeated from last month.  "Drinks for the Democratic debates: Joe Biden" from October 10, 2015 was the second post tied for most saved on Pinterest in August.  The final entry tied for most pinned on Pinterest was "Great Lakes cities and their roles in the regional economy" from June 26, 2014.  Pinterest also drove enough traffic to one of my entries to place it in the top ten, a story I'll tell over the jump along that those of the most read entries during August.

Friday, September 9, 2016

North Korea tests fifth nuclear device

During the past five plus years, I haven't blogged about either North Korea or nuclear proliferation much.  In fact, the last time I posted about North Korea, it was in the context of Dr. Evil airing his grievances for Festivus.  As for nuclear proliferation, I had good news the last time I mentioned it in Iran nuclear deal eases fear premium.  Unfortunately, today does not bring good news, as CNN reports North Korea claims successful test of nuclear warhead.

North Korea has hit the button on its fifth and potentially most powerful nuclear test, claiming to have successfully tested a nuclear warhead. CNN's Steven Jiang reports.
For more, read the story on CNN's site.

This is the third nuclear test by North Korea since I began this blog and the fifth in the country's history.  I ignored the other two, so I guess the third time is a charm.  Besides, I should be covering this story.  As I wrote in Hiroshima 70 years later, "for a blog about the collapse of civilization to ignore the beginning of the time when nuclear weapons were feared and expected to be the most likely cause of the end of civilization would be a shameful act of neglect.  Under the guise of 'better late than never,' I'm avoiding this dereliction of my duty as a doomer blogger by" reporting on this test.  Thanks to Kim Jong Un, who I jokingly call "Kim Young One," I'm now paying attention.  I'm not particularly grateful.

While I take North Korea's nuclear threat seriously, I don't take "Kim Young One" himself that seriously, so I'm going to have some fun at his expense with the assistance of Skyy the Tipsy Bartender.  Follow over the jump.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

Happy 50th Anniversary to Star Trek from the actors, NASA, and the Planetary Society

I've already celebrated "Star Trek"'s 50th anniversary with coins and stamps, but today is the 50th anniversary of the airing of the first episode, "The Man Trap" on September 8, 1966, so I'm going to celebrate again with three videos from the show itself, NASA, and the Planetary Society.

First, Star Trek Legends Wish The Series A Happy 50th Anniversary from Star Trek's own YouTube channel.

Starfleet's own William Shatner, Brent Spiner, Jeri Ryan, Michael Dorn, and Scott Bakula offer greetings for the golden jubilee.
An actor from every series!

Next, it's Happy 50th Anniversary Star Trek from NASA.

In recognition of Star Trek’s 50th anniversary NASA wishes the entire Star Trek family a happy anniversary. Thanks for the inspiration, Live long and prosper.
We've seen the actors and the scientists.  Now to put both of them together with the fans in The Planetary Post - Star Trek's 50th Anniversary at Comic-Con 2016 with Robert Picardo from the Planetary Society.

This month, we're on the floor at San Diego Comic-Con 2016 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Star Trek's first televised episode.

In this episode, Robert Picardo gives Star Trek fans a pop quiz to test their space science knowledge. And, for fairness, he asks space science experts to boldly go and test their Star Trek trivia knowledge. Robert also hosts a panel discussion about the relationship between Star Trek and NASA with some of the greatest minds at NASA.
Looks like the scientists do better with the "Star Trek" questions than the fans do with science.  On the other hand, it's good to see that "Star Trek" has been so inspirational to scientists, including me.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Infidel 753 and I talk fossils

Last week, Infidel 753 namechecked my blog to begin Ten years -- a bit of blowing my own horn.
Some blogs such as Crazy Eddie and Politics Plus post regular digests of their statistics, which give a glimpse of what interests their readers and where those readers are drawn from.  I haven't ever done that, but having just reached my ten-year anniversary, I took a look back at the whole history of the blog via the stat counter, out of curiosity.
I expressed my gratitude in the comments.
Congratulations on ten years of blogging! I'm flattered to be mentioned as an example of posting regular digests of my statistics and of playing a minor part in inspiring you to write this entry.
That's not what really caught my eye.  This was.
#10: "important things that happened in 2006"
#9 "infidels 753"
#8 "calenche ranae manos" (?????)
#7 "things that happened in 2006"
#6 "infidel 753"
#5 "arthropod"
#4 "title"
#3 "eurypterid"
#2 "eurypterids"
#1 "infidel753"

#5, #3, and #2 are explained here, and I guess a lot of people see something I've written elsewhere on the net (I use the name "Infidel753" almost everywhere) and look me up.  Aside from that, I'm baffled by these.
Those search terms reminded me that I have been ignoring one of my areas of expertise.
As for "eurypterids" being the second most used search term for your blog, I'm envious. Mine is "game of thrones dungeons and dragons." I'm the paleontologist and you get the traffic for a prehistoric animal? Of course, it might help if I actually blogged more about extinct organisms. Most of my posts with the paleontology label are about the Jurassic Park/Jurassic World movies.
That admission surprised Infidel.
You're a paleontologist? That had slipped by me. Well, feel free to borrow the eurypterids -- perhaps they'll prove a critter of good internet fortune for you as well.
See the illustration.
Yes, I'm a paleontologist. As I wrote on LiveJournal nine years ago, "I am the world's expert on the fossil snails and clams of Rancho La Brea. Seriously. Of course, that and $1.60 plus tax will get me a tall coffee at Starbucks. It's still my claim to scientific fame." I've since updated how much a grande tall Starbucks coffee costs and the boast to "Yes, I was the first person to identify 33 species from the most famous fossil deposit in North America. That, and $1.65 plus tax will get me a tall coffee at Starbucks. :-)" As I wrote, I really need to write about fossils more at my current blogging home. I might start with the eurypterids and that image, which is from "Swimming with Sea Monsters."
Here's the photo in question.

I may have recalled the show's title as "Swimming with Sea Monsters," but it's really called Sea Monsters: A Walking with Dinosaurs Trilogy.

Infidel encouraged me in his final reply.
I'd definitely be interested in a fossil snail post. And I'm glad you also appreciate Lady Gaga.
Thank you, Infidel.  I've already borrowed the eurypterids and blogged about Lady Gaga.  I'll have to write about fossil snails, not just living ones.  Stay tuned.

P.S. Infidel wasn't the only blogger inspired at least in part by my example.  Paul W. of You Might Notice a Trend referred to both Infidel and me in Ten Years Blogging And All I Got to Show For It Is a T-Shirt.  Their examples inspired me.  Sometimes inspiration circles back to its source.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Trump and Stein visit Detroit

I concluded Presidents on Labor Day by mentioning two presidential candidates who campaigned in Detroit over the weekend.
The first WXYZ clip also mentioned Donald Trump's visit to Detroit on Saturday.  I'll have more on that visit as well as that of Green Party nominee Jill Stein tomorrow.  Stay tuned.
I begin with WXYZ, who reported Saturday Trump's visit leads to protests in Detroit.

Mike Duggan had a busy weekend.  Not only was he in the Labor Day parade marching next to Bill Clinton, he was in the protest as well.  He wasn't alone.  The Detroit Free Press showed him next to U.S. Representative Brenda Lawrence in Protesters gather outside Donald Trump's Detroit appearance.  Another Democratic politician involved was Rasida Tlaib, who was quoted in Arab-American News' Detroiters say no to Trump.  If Tlaib's name looks familiar to my readers, she was one of the people who organized the demonstration when Trump was greeted by protesters in Detroit the last time he visited.  Any time Trump comes to Detroit, he should expect her to organize a demonstration against him.

Green Party nominee Jill Stein also visited Detroit on Saturday.  Follow over the jump for a report on her visit.

Monday, September 5, 2016

Presidents on Labor Day

Happy Labor Day!  I begin this year's celebration with President Obama's Weekly Address: Building Upon the Legacy of Labor Day.

In this week’s address, President Obama commemorated Labor Day by highlighting the economic progress we’ve made over the course of his administration.
For more, read the White House's Labor Day Proclamation.

Mr. Obama wasn't the only president, past, present, or future celebrating Labor Day.  WXYZ reported this morning on Bill Clinton to march in Detroit's Labor Day parade, which also mentioned that Hillary would be in Cleveland today for that city's Labor Day parade.

Here's the actual footage of Clinton walking in Detroit's Labor Day parade .

The previous clip mentioned that "prominent Democrats" usually appeared in the Labor Day parade.  That's certainly the case here.  In addition to Mr. Clinton, I saw Senator Debbie Stabenow, U.S. Representative Debbie Dingell, and Detroit Mayor Mike Duggan walking alongside the former President and his Secret Service detail.  I'm sure others more familiar with Detroit political figures could recognize City Council members, County Commissioners, and other local politicians in the video.

The first WXYZ clip also mentioned Donald Trump's visit to Detroit on Saturday.  I'll have more on that visit as well as that of Green Party nominee Jill Stein tomorrow.  Stay tuned.

Sunday, September 4, 2016

The Archdruid and I talk drum corps

It's been a while since I've posted a coversation with The Archdruid here.  The last time I quoted his words here was in Paul Wartenberg, Infidel753, and The Archdruid comment on me, which was a conversation about me, not with me.  The last conversation between us that I recreated here formed part of Cthulhu and Pluto plus Mordor and Charon.  That was more than a year ago, so I was wondering if I'd post another.

Fortunately, Greer and I had a conversation last month in the comments to The Emperor's New Art: A Parable that was not only perfect for an entertainment Sunday, but especially this Sunday in particular.  I got Greer to discuss drum corps in much the same way that I elicited him to mention Steampunk, although I don't expect him to write an entire post about the topic.  Since today is the championship for Drum Corps Associates, the all-ages drum corps organization, as well as a Sunday, I can think of no better occasion to post it.  Follow over the jump to read a conversation with The Archdruid about drum corps, of all topics.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Detroit just had its warmest summer on record

For the planet, July 2016 was the hottest month on record yet. Here in Detroit, that helped produce the warmest meteorological summer on record.* Here's the infographic from the National Weather Service in Detroit/Pontiac, which my wife found for me. Thank you, dear.

We broke the average from 2012. I remember that summer. I wrote about the heat wave and drought throughout the Midwest, along with special attention to record high temperatures here in metro Detroit. That summer followed the warmest meterological spring in Detroit history, including the warmest March. The odd thing is that I don't recall the days being that warm this year. They weren't, as the infographic after the jump shows.

Friday, September 2, 2016

CNN visits Midway Island to promote documentary on plastic pollution

The theme of World Oceans Day this year was plastic pollution.  It seems CNN took that to heart, as they posted Every bird on this island eats plastic to their YouTube channel yesterday.

CNN gained rare access to Midway Atoll to see the shocking amounts of plastic that makes its way across the Pacific Ocean and into our food chain.
CNN has more in Midway: Why Barack Obama visited a tiny island in the Pacific.
1.5 million Laysan albatross call Midway home. The albatross carry five tons of plastic onto the island each year - plastic that was created, consumed and then dumped by humans, and is now is being fed by these birds to their chicks.

The plastic bags, coffee cups and toothbrushes we use each day don't magically disappear when we throw them away. Some plastic gets recycled, but a lot of it - 8 million tons each year - ends up in the world's oceans.

CNN visited Midway this summer, where an endless plastic tide washes up on shore every day, poisoning and killing the island's rich wildlife. Plastic is part of the sand and part of the fish, and experts fear it could be making its way into the food we eat.

Our exclusive documentary from one of the remotest island chains on the planet is due out soon. It explores the damage that plastic pollution is doing to the world - and the damage it could be doing to you.
Plastic pollution in the oceans has been a recurring subject of this blog.  In addition to this year's World Oceans Day, I've written about the Pacific Garbage Patch, banning plastic bags, and shoes made from marine plastic.  I couldn't resist posting about this topic again when the opportunity arose.

As for the documentary itself, I have high hopes.  The last environmental documentary I recall CNN releasing was "Blackfish."  Even though it was snubbed by the Oscars and got a lot of pushback, it had its intended effect, as SeaWorld is phasing out its current Orca shows in San Diego.  May the upcoming feature be as effective!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

That 'alien signal' is likely a false alarm

It's been exciting lately for fans of science fiction becoming true.  Last week, I reported on the discovery of the nearest extrasolar planet in Did we just discover Wunderland? No, Moiroi.  This week, the possiblity that we may have evidence of a technological alien civilization was in the news. CNN has the story in Radio signal sparks alien life speculation.

CNN's Anderson Cooper speaks with Miles O'Brien about a signal from a sun-like star, sparking speculation of alien life.
O'Brien isn't the only one expressing skepticism.  So are Vox and Wired.  Looks like a false alarm.  Darn.  Like Anderson Cooper, I'm just a little disappointed.